I often refer to change as a dirty six-letter word in the church. We don’t like change in the church. After all, it is the one place we can find continuity – things stay the same. It is evident, the world is rapidly changing around us. We do not have to like or embrace all the changes going on around us. Yet, this is the era God chose for you and me to live. Therefore, this is the era that you and I have been chosen (by God) to make a difference.
Seventy-four years ago a world inhabitant boom began. Prior to that year, the total population of the earth was estimated at about one billion people. It was celebrated as the largest number of people ever on earth at one time. Today those estimates total more than seven (7), billion people. That means in each of the last seven decades we have added (for each decade) as many people as it took the first 5-6 thousand years to amass.
How is the church doing at keeping up with this massive population expanse? Some have written in answer to that question; “only incrementally.” Honestly, that may be an overstatement. Denominations large and small are showing declines (sometimes steep) in church attendance over the last few decades. All while the population has been exploding.
In writings and speaking, I have noted over the past twelve years that the church of the future may look vastly different than the church of the past century. I still not only believe this to be true, I now believe through today’s societal events, that timeline is being hastened. What will the church look like? How will it be different? I am not certain. But here are some thoughts on needed “changes”.
Many current models of ministry strategies are out of date and out of touch with society. Over the centuries, the New Testament church has made changes to adapt to the people of the existing culture. Not the message, it will always remain the same. We are doing church today similar to the way it was introduced to the pioneer country of USA over 200 years ago.
Even in these years, there have been many changes. We no longer have itinerant preachers. We now have comfortable seating, electricity, A/C, screens, videos, and more than one church per city. Bus ministries have come and gone. These are all changes that God has brought us to and through. Today, we are once again at a time to follow God’s lead as we look to integrating the church into the world while keeping the goal the same; take the gospel of Jesus Christ – the news of a loving and just God to the people around us.
Letting go of some of our comforts must be part of the 21st-century church. God has always sustained His church with His promise that He will always be with us until the end of time. The question is, are we willing to trust Him, to follow into areas (strategies) unknown or uncomfortable to us, yet intended by God?
It is a new day believer, and God’s call is still upon us. He thought enough of you to place you in this time of history to answer His calling to reach the world for Christ. What will it take for you to be totally surrendered to God’s New Call of integration of the gospel? This is our New Reality.
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.